BWW Review: THE KING AND I at Times Union Performing Arts Center
The iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I has arrived for the FSCJ Artist Series 2018-2019 season. Audience members will hear the classic songs, observe beautiful choreography, and laugh at the great wit of the cast members. The King and I first produced in 1951 has many themes and conflicts that still ring true today. The cast presents these beautifully for audience members to really grab a hold of. Audience members of all ages will be entertained and moved by the performance.
The entire cast was phenomenal! The main characters, Anna Leonowens (Angela Baumgardner) and King of Siam (Pedro Ka'awaloa) had such chemistry that was encaptivating. They had such great rapport with each other, bouncing off sarcasm and jokes off of each other. They also conveyed how much the characters cared for one another, though they had a hard time seeing eye to eye due to their different cultures. It is also important to mention that their voices were absolutely incredible. Baumgardner really captivated audiences with "Getting to Know You" as she sings with the King's children. Her voice conveyed the emotions of caring and loving for her young students, and in return the audience experiences how much they have fallen in love with her. She is also incredibly sassy and stubborn with the King, entertaining audiences with whatever she may command of him. Ka'awaloa's voice was also stupendous. Some of his songs were sung to himself, questioning if he is acting as a strong king. This really helped audiences see a softer side of his character. His song "A Puzzlement" was incredibly entertaining and poignant. Audience members could really feel his heartache as he realizes he does not have all the answers and really struggles with letting go of the eastern culture he has grown accustom to. He also was incredibly funny with his multiple comebacks to Anna as he tried to explain she is his servant. The way he handles her western ways is incredibly entertaining.
The ensemble was also remarkable. Tuptim, performed by Paulina Yeung, really stood out among the cast. Her voice echoed throughout the theatre as audiences fell silent to her incredible talent. Her voice was showcased in many of her songs, but really stuck out in her first number "My Lord and Master". Her acting was really great as she performed Tuptim's play "The Small House of Uncle Thomas". This scene stood out as it was a metaphor for her life, but more than that the actors who participated in the play were outstanding. The choreography in this scene was incredibly entertaining and so different than I have ever seen. I was very impressed with the children in the ensemble, as well. They were incredibly entertaining and absolutely adorable! Some had funny interjections that I did not see coming that made all audience members burst out laughing. Every member of the cast added something special to the show, even those who did not speak, or sing added a special piece of entertainment.
The King and I is a sensational show that will be enjoyed by all audience members., "etc., etc., etc. and so forth". They will recognize songs they may not have heard in a long time and experience the incredible voices that sing them. They will be blown away by the talent that they see on stage by all cast members. The King and I will be in Jacksonville through November 18.